Following the earlier post let me continue to narrate some simple steps that I have started to take after the incident with the Relationship Manager of the bank. Mind you none of them is rocket since or some thing new, I am sure each one of you know them but it is a matter of practice to implement them:
- Never ever sign blank forms. No matter how busy you are, signing blank forms is not very different from signing blank checks.
- Always keep a photocopy of the documents you are signing. If a photocopier is not handy take pictures of the forms with your phone camera. The pictures will not win any award but will still be better than not having any photocopy of the forms you have signed.
- Always keep the number of the supervisor of the person you are dealing with handy so that you can speak to the next level in case of any issue.
- All the checks should always be given in names of the Asset management company/scheme you are investing in and should be crossed across.
- Never ever give cash. All investments should be done using checks and only checks or electronic transfers if you are tech savvy.
- Keep a photocopy of the checks along with the signed and filled forms for your records.
- Once you have given the papers to the RM/bank employee follow it with an email to the employee, his /her supervisor and the customer service email box, mentioning the date, amount and the scheme you are investing in. This will ensure that people other than the person who is collecting forms from you are aware that the RM has collected checks from you. This will also scare away any body planning fraud as they would not like to mess up with somebody keeping records meticulously.
- If you do not get your statement within the promised time period immediately follow it up with the banks RM and if he does not return your calls immediately escalate.
- Most new accounts require copies of your PAN card or address proof etc. Always sign these photocopies and also write what you are giving them for. E.g if it is for opening a mutual fund account. Next to your signature mention that : Photocopy being given for MF account for XYZ company. This way nobody will be able to make further photocopies and use the same for opening a fraudulent account in your name. ( ID theft is a big problem in US)
Relationship managers are assigned to privileged customers of the bank and most of them are very decent people, unfortunately their goal is to sell, sell and sell some more to you. It is not always that there goal and your goals are aligned to each other. I was ok with a smooth talking sales man trying to sell me for his commission but what has happened in Citi bank's case is a pure case fraud where money from an investors account has been taken out.
SEBI has now mandated that a third party check cannot be accepted for a Mutual fund transaction, so this will reduce the element of fraud to some extent, but you never know.
So in order to protect our own interest it is important that we be more vigilant with our own money and very careful what we sign or not sign.